There is something vaguely somnambulist at play, I think the minimal score and lack of urgency, but it doesn't quite translate into an ethereal nightmare. Probably dampened by Lugosi's theatricality and the otherwise bad performers, but there are some very nifty visual tricks and images that have more to do with the Haiti setting than the interiors.
Piercing eyes, empty eyes and hand gestures are the signs most used to represent control and domination. Bodies become inorganic and turn into a property that can be exploited. To recuperate control means cutting the head, stop transmission, sabotage power and recuperate the body. The sudden cutting off of power has the risk of out of control self-destruction. The magician's head must drop.
35mm, UCLA restoration. An extraordinary initial link of a chain that came to be decisive in contemporary fiction, albeit here more political: a zombie is an individual who works for free for a criminal mind. We could name him as a slave and call the criminal a boss. But more than a Marxist work, it's a surrealistic delusion about the "amour fou," which was only echoed before in Borzage's "Seventh Heaven" ...
Horror movie that introduced the word "zombies", but here they were not the brain-eating type yet but rather mind-controlled sleepwalkers. Bela Lugosi appear with the excellent name of Mr. Murder and looks great here. It's a pretty unique atmospheric horror. It would probably have been a even better film if played as a silent film as the dialogue is the film's weakest link.
Cinema's first zombie movie! How old is it? So old that it predates when zombie meant Romero's flesh-eaters, and instead was rooted in Haitian voodoo. The best and worst pre-Code tendencies: stiff writing and acting, but frequently an inventive shot or an eerie bit of sound design, and always a perverse undercurrent from this story about killing your crush so you can make them a reanimated slave. Fun time had by all.
"For you, my friend, they are the angels of death!" Lugosi kicks serious ass in this flick! For what should have been some Grade-Z-Talkie, the Halperin Bros. were pretty damned groundbreaking. There's some truly creepy shots in this. Good commentary on what it means to possess someone; "I thought that beauty alone would satisfy. But the soul is gone. I can't bear those empty, staring eyes."
2 1/2 out of 5 stars. A tough watch with brutal story pacing which is a classic example of why I'm not a fan of movies from the early 30s. On the plus side some of the imagery is fantastic. It kind of felt like Fritz Lang making Dracula. White Zombie is more of a museum piece than a work of art but still worth a look.
Bela Lugosi stars in the very first zombie movie, which introduced the Haitian legend to the world in 1932. When a young couple travels to Haiti to get married, a jealous benefactor brings Lugosi's creepy zombie slave driver in to curse the woman so he can keep her as his own. A bit stiff in places, but there are some interesting visual things going on here, as well as a terrifically edited, nail biting finale.